Why has Yahoo gone nutso & started acting like a troll?

14 thoughts on “Why has Yahoo gone nutso & started acting like a troll?”

  1. I think that Yahoo assumed that Facebook being in a quiet period would make it difficult to defend itself. That would give it leverage to gain a positive settlement (either cash or a better deal with Facebook).

    They severely misjudged the third party outrage.

  2. By doing this Yahoo may be jump-starting the patent wars for the web, by raising the value of web patents in an “offensive” way. Soon we might start seeing big companies, small companies and especially patent trolls start suing other companies left and right to make a quick buck on some worthless web technology patents.

    The web is what it is today because of the *lack* of such a war, and because of the high permissiveness for what web companies can do. So forgive me for not siding with Yahoo, no matter what their reasons are. In this case the goal absolutely doesn’t justify the means, and they deserve much more than the backlash they’ve already gotten.

    1. Lucian

      The web is almost 18 years old and well, it has been a long time for peace to reign (paraphrasing you.) As the web matures, we are seeing exactly the same pattern we have seen in other industries. Whether we like it or not, this is the new normal and folks have to deal with it. The long term impact of all this — remains to be seen, but agreed that it is going to be hard. We had relatively peaceful 2 decades on mobile as well before patent wars broke out. Just pointing out.

  3. “Silicon Valley’s holiest cows of the moment: Facebook.” Please pardon the swerve, but to paraphrase Clara Peller “Where’s the silicon?” If this is what Silicon Valley has become (Facebook and Yahoo battling over social software IP) Then we’ve pretty much completed the evisceration of the Valley. Going from gadgets of tangible value to the foundationless “service economy” that has gutted the rest of America. Overhead functions becoming ends in and of themselves. Now it’s “Look what I can get a computer to do. All I have to do now is figure out how to ‘monetize’ it (buzzword for the decade) and I can leverage it into billions. Regardless of whether it does anything useful.”

    1. Silicon is in Santa Clara, Taipei and in China. Okay not trying to be an ass, but I do agree with your thought process though not entirely convinced that we are seeing the end. I think the idea of what is tech is changing and what is a tech company is changing and becoming broader.

  4. I get pretty tired when I want to comment, like now, and am required to share the inner workings of my profile and preferences on Yahoo, Google, etc. This was rather refreshing not to have to share anything other than my opinion. You Go Yahoo. It has been my home page since the beginning.

  5. Provocative article… However, with all the gorilla dust raised about this in the past few days several important (?)points are missed. First, the “reign of peace” you refer to was broken by Steve Jobs, not a patent “troll”, two years ago when Apple sued All-Things-Android (except of course Google). That declaration of war changed the game forever, not Intellectual Ventures or Yahoo!.

    Second, the average percentage of the S&P 500 company market value comprised of intangible assets has climbed from 15% in the mid 80’s, to more that 80% today (closer to 100% for technology companies). Why is that relevant? Well, it shows that public equity investors are willing to pay dearly for intangible assets such as patents and capitalized R&D, meaning that a big piece of what they purchase can be intellectual property.

    Which leads me to #3: a lot of Facebook watchers believe, quite sincerely, that a big portion of this highly touted $100 billion market value IPO is comprised of Other People’s Inventions (backed by Other People’s Money). So, logically speaking, why is the IPO largesse limited to FB employees and the lucky investors, when a lot of the technology they use for their success was invented by others? It’s no different than the smartphone patent wars where the integrators are being sued for patent infringement by those who believed they were the innovators.

    Finally, fourth (and most controversial, no doubt): venture firms, a highly clubby group for decades, invested in new companies because of the teams and business models, not the technologies inherent in their success. VC’s treated the value of IP as their own private promote, not wishing to pay up for it but certainly willing to take the goods if and when they materialized. To my way of thinking this occurred so that VC’s did not have to conduct any kind of freedom-to-operate due diligence in a marketplace that was crowded with me too’s. So, I see a lot of disingenuous howling coming from folks like Fred Wilson, who’s had his nose in the trough for a lot of years, and now sees that he’s going to be forced to respect other people’s private property rights when he makes (or monetizes) one of his investments.

    Yahoo, while perhaps an operating zombie, is entitled to offer its shareholders the same kind of value recognition that Nortel gave its bondholders when it sold its patents to the Rockstar Consortium for $4.5 billion. The need to resort to a patent suit is probably due more to the realities of the legal system we’ve all created, and the narcissistic attitude of Facebook management, than it is some nefarious plot. Simply put, Yahoo investors are entitled to ALL the value they created during its corporate existence, even if they have to break a few dishes to obtain it.

    1. Yes, yes, yes!!
      A hundred billion times yes.
      The way every tech blogger and his/her dog are jumping to defend Facebook and call Yahoo a troll is pathetic and disappointing.
      Yahoo!’s new CEO is doing what should have been done many years ago. That’s proper corporate governance, not trolling.

  6. Not necessary to use Apple as the standard corporate comeback story. You can use Sony circa 1980 for this. Yahoo needs to develop (or buy) a Walkman-like product and things will turn around quickly. But a company that’s in this position can’t cut its way to success — Bartz tried that.

  7. Could Yahoo become more of a content producer? I remember reading somewhere that their web TV series’ are doing quite well. This could be especially useful as they could leverage their international partnerships to market them. Maybe content can still be king, not the networks or the platforms.

  8. The presumption that patents have no value better explains Yahoo’s position. While many call it the Free Pizza and Beer Mentality that Software or any technology should be free and that Patents are so yesterday because it’s about a new pardign. While all of that my “sound cool”, it indirectly ignores the free rider burden and it tells the world to expect to be paid for anything means you are insane.

    The Yahoo problem is that they believed much of this themselves. It is in the DNA of Silicon Valley it seems. As the founders and the IPO investors and lawyers cash-out, the public investor is left with a Company that has little value in protecting its IP and value it, even less.

    It is not until the company is ready to crash, the Team that has the mess that is left have to be adults and business people and make prudent business decisions to avoid or minimize the risks of the lawsuits to come from shareholders and creditors.

    The statement by AOL’s CEO, that they did not look at our patents, until the Nortel patent sale keeps with the culture and the change that comes with risks of shareholder and creditor lawsuits down the road.

    Considering the fact that Facebook “borrowed the idea” from someone else, and it gets the story and film gets an Oscar Nomination keeps with the culture and mentality.

    It is fine that many people embrace the culture, they should just not ask the public for money.

    Cisco was sued for Patent Infringement many years ago, and cranked up the PR machine that patents are old and ancient. Cisco received much applause. When Cisco believed Huawei ripped off their IP, Cisco didn’t respond that we should fight it out in the market, as they had with Lucent. No, they sued Huawei for patent infringement, but at that time there was no talk about patents being so yesterday.

    Google had taken this view to heart by copying books without regard to copyrights.

    Today, Google has gone wild suing everyone in sight with the patents they got from the acquisition of Motorola.

    If you have no protection and borrow, then protection is so 20th Century. When it harms your business, then it is wrong.

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